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MEMPHIS STATE UNIVERSITY
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ORAL HISTORY OF THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY
INTERVIEW WITH DR. LEE S. GREENE
JUNE 11/ 1970
BY CHARLES W. CRAWFORD
TRANSCRIBER - BRENDA P. MEIER
ORAL HISTORY RESEARCH OFFICE
MEMPHIS STATE UNIVERSITY
GREENE, LEE. S
M2I.1FHIS STATE UNIVERSITY
ORAL HISTORY RESEARCH OFFICE
I hereby release all right, title, or interest in and to
all or any part of my tape-recorded memoirs to the Mississippi
Valley Archives of the John '/illard Brister Library of Memphis
State University, subject to the following stipulations.
That I reserve the right to use this material or duplicating
material in my own writing, published or unpublished.
DATE August 5, 1974
(For the Mississippi Valley Archives
of the John ■ .'illard Brister Library
of fViemphis State University)
(OHRO Form C)
THIS IS THE ORAL HISTORY RESEARCH OFFICE OF MEMPHIS STATE
UNIVERSITY. THIS PROJECT IS "AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE TENNESSEE
VALLEY AUTHORITY." THE PLACE IS KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE. THE
DATE IS JUNE 11, 1970, AND THE INTERVIEW IS WITH DR. LEE S.
GREENE, FORMERLY WITH THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY, NOW WITH
THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE. THE INTERVIEW IS BY DR. CHARLES W.
CRAWFORD, DIRECTOR OF THE MEMPHIS STATE UNIVERSITY ORAL HISTORY
RESEARCH OFFICE, AND WAS TRANSCRIBED BY MRS. BRENDA P. MEIER.
CRAWFORD: Dr. Greene, we can follow any form we wish about
this. I suggest that we start with some sort of
biographical summary of your background, your education, your
experience before getting to TVA, and then with this biographical
background, we'll get into your work with the Authority.
GREENE: All right. My education was obtained at the
University of Kansas as an undergraduate, where I
have two degrees in music and one degree in political science.
Then I went to the University of Leipzig on a fellowship for a
year, and I returned in 1931 to the University of Wisconsin
from which I obtained an M.A. and Ph.D., both in political
science, and I spent a year at Brookings Institution as a fellow
in 1933 and '34. Then I returned to the University of Wisconsin
to teach as an instructor in political science, and I taught
from 1934 until the spring of 1936, when I came to TVA as a
research person. I've forgotten the exact title, in the Social
and Economic Division, which at that time was headed by T. L.
Howard. I remained in the Social and Economic Research Division
until January, 1937, when I joined the Training Division of the
Department of Personnel of TVA.
CRAWFORD: Where did you work? In what building were you
located when you first arrived at TVA, and with
what people did you work?
GREENE: I worked in the New Sprankle Building under T. L.
Howard and Lawrence L. Durisch, and when I joined
the Personnel Division, I transferred over to the Daylight
Building across the street, and I worked at that time under
George Gant — G-A-N-T.
CRAWFORD: Yes, sir. George Gant is on our interview list,
except he's in Thailand, I believe, at the moment.
Dr. Durisch is on our list also.
GREENE: Yes, I know.
CRAWFORD: Do you remember other people you were associated
with at this time?
GREENE: Yes, in the Social and Economic Division, I was
associated with Lyndon Abbott, who was working
with me on a study of municipal government for the State of
Tennessee, and I also had as an assistant Henry Hart, who is
now professor of political science at the University of
Wisconsin. I worked in the Training Division with Richard
Niehoff, Mary Rothrock, William J. McGlothlin, Herman Daves.
I believe those are the principal persons I worked with in TVA
In the Training Division, of course, I was associated with
Gordon Clapp who was then Director of Personnel, and Arthur
Jandrey, who was Assistant Director or Associate Director of
Personnel. And there was George Slover who was head of the
Employment division or section of the Personnel Department.
Is George Slover in the Knoxville area now?
GREENE: I don't know where he is. I haven't seen him for
several years. Actually my work in the Training
Division, as Supervisor of Training and Public Administration,
put me in contact with quite a few people through the line
departments and with some people in the field, although primarily
my work was here in Knoxville.
CRAWFORD: How much travel did you have to do in the training
Very, very little. It was mostly right here
CRAWFORD: Did you find the programs well developed when you
arrived or did you have to develop them yourself?
GREENE: No, not well developed. When I first came to the
Social and Economic Division, I assumed that I
would come into a developed program, but I found after I got
here that I was expected to develop this program myself and I
was made supervisor of a unit of municipal studies inside the
Social and Economic Division. We were expected to develop a
program. I was frankly somewhat surprised at this. I had
assumed that there would be an on-going program for which I
was hired, but I discovered this was not the case. I had to
create the program myself. And when I went into the Training
Division, that was a new program, and I expected to develop a
program there, and I did. But in the Social and Economic
Division there was not a well organized program at that time.
Perhaps I shouldn't have expected this. It was a new division,
but I had just assumed when I came to TVA that they would have a
little bit clearer objective of what they were supposed to do.
Actually, I think the Social and Economic Division
was trying to make a place for itself and only partially succeeded
in doing this. We made a number of studies that tried to get
the attention of the Board. I felt, myself, and still feel
that the TVA Board should have had in mind what it wanted from
the Social and Economic Division and should have called on it
more than it did, but I found in the organization that there
was a good deal of competition for recognition and so on, not
unlike the situation you have in the university.
CRAWFORD: Do you suppose it was because of the uncertainty in
the TVA Act itself as to exactly what purpose the
GREENE: Well, I think that is partly it. The TVA Act was
vague in certain points, frankly, and TVA management
itself didn't know exactly how it wished to proceed. And of
course, at that time there was disagreement in the Board as to
policy. There was disagreement during part of this time as to
the kind of organization that should govern TVA. When I first
came there was no general manager and they were in the process
of moving towards the creation of the general manager. So there
was considerable uncertainty. There was some uncertainty also
as to the constitutionality of TVA. That was resolved during
the time I was with the organization, but for a period of time
there the management and employees were not absolutely clear
that they would be allowed to stay in existence.
CRAWFORD: I believe the Ashwander case was in litigation
about the time you arrived, wasn't it?
Yes, I think so. That's right
CRAWFORD: What sort of program did you develop in the Social
and Economic Division?
GREENE: Well, I was only there during a portion of one year
and our main project was the development of a survey
of municipal government and administration in the state of Tennes-
see. This was carried on after I left, and after I came back
from England. The results of the study were published by the
University of Tennessee under the authorship of Lyndon Abbott
CRAWFORD: What did you hope would be accomplished by this study?
GREENE: Well, I was not certain what they hoped to accom-
plish. One of the purposes of the study was simply
information. TVA made a number of studies of municipalities
in the Valley. Tennessee was the first one that was issued, I
think, but there was a similar study in Mississippi. There
were studies made of other valley states as far as municipal
government was concerned. There was at that time no publication,
and there has been no general publication since, on this
subject. We are now in the process here in the Bureau of
bringing this study up to date and probably will republish it —
The General Survey of Municipal Government.
Beyond this, I'm not certain whether the Social
and Economic Division had in mind the hope that the municipal
electricity contract which TVA was in the process of developing
could be used to change municipal government or to improve it.
I'm not certain whether the information that we gathered was
particularly useful to the electricity people in developing
their contracts. We made a number of other spot studies that
did have reference to the contract.
I recall one that Bill Stevenson and I made at Milan,
Tennessee, where we were called on to take a look at the
municipal government structure in preparation for the develop-
ment of the contract between the electricity section of TVA's
work and the Social and Economic Division. But one of the
difficulties there was that the electricity people have always
more or less gone their own way in TVA, without paying too much
attention to other considerations. They are a little bit like
highway people in this regard, and I don't think they made too
much use of the studies. On the other hand, the study has
been useful, I think, in an intellectual sense, but it wasn't
as pin-pointed and wasn't as service-oriented as I would have
liked to have seen it.
CRAWFORD: Did you envision any sort of cooperative working
between TVA and municipalities in the Valley?
GREENE: Well, we were interested at this time in the formation
of a municipal league. Tennessee had had a municipal
league at one time which had become dormant or even actually
disappeared. I don't know the complete history of this, but
I think the league got involved in Tennessee state politics, and
it declined. So at the time we made the study there wasn't
any spokesman for the cities and we felt in the Social and
Economic Division that this was needed.
One of the recommendations we made in this study
was the establishment of a municipal league. This eventually
did take place in the State of Tennessee, and of course, the
league has become quite a powerful agency in this state. I
don't think this was an outcome of our study at all; it was an
outcome of a tax situation, but we certainly had this in mind.
Of course, we anticipated that TVA and the municipalities would
enter into some kind of relationship where the municipality
would be the marketing agency for TVA's electricity, but the
Social and Economic Division was really on the periphery of this
because this was an electric power matter and the electric power
people were, as I say, pretty self-centered.
CRAWFORD: They regarded their aspect, I think, as the paying
part of TVA.
GREENE: Well, I think they did, and they still do, and
they tended, I think, to go their own way to a certain
CRAWFORD: What was the size of the Social and Economic Division
at the time you started work there, Dr. Greene?
GREENE: Oh, there must have been about a dozen people, not
counting secretarial help.
CRAWFORD: Who was in charge of it at that time?
T. L. Howard
CRAWFORD: Did you feel that your previous education and
experience had prepared you for the work you started
with--social and economic?
CRAWFORD: Did you find that generally true in TVA ' s management?
Did most of the people seem to be doing work that
they had done before?
GREENE: Yes, there were young people in the mailing room
and in filing who were temporarily on jobs of less
importance than they had been prepared for because at that time
TVA had the notion that they would hire young people and put
them in this kind of clerical and almost menial job, and then
put them in what you might call young executive jobs as they
opened. This caused some difficulty, but gradually--even rapidly
I think--most of the people who were equipped to do better work
were put in those jobs. But there are a certain number of
people around who are not too well placed, but they were over-
educated for the job they were doing. But on the whole I think
the people of TVA were well selected for what they were doing.
There wasn't any special trouble of that sort.
CRAWFORD: Did TVA have any difficulty recruiting any needed
people during the time you arrived?
GREENE: No, not in those days, and then with the depression,
of course, there were plenty of applicants for all
CRAWFORD: How were salaries in TVA according to your view at
that time? Were they comparable with outside
GREENE: They were higher--very much higher — much higher
than academic salaries. When I came back from
England in 1938 I came back to a position that paid $3800 which
was a magnificent salary compared to academic salaries. I
could have taken a position at that time at Miami University
at Oxford, Ohio that would have paid me $2200, TVA ' s job was
$3800. And for academic people that was about normal. Actually
when I left TVA to come to the university I came out here at
$3500 from $3800, or I guess I had gone up to $4200 by that time.
I came back to $3500. Of course, this was a nine-months basis,
but $3500 was a pretty good salary for UT at that time. Of
course, at that time UT was underpaying compared to other
institutions, but even so TVA salaries, as far as salary positions,
were ahead. And we were also ahead, I'm sure, in regards to
the wage people — the so-called blue collar workers — because TVA
had the policy of paying union wages in an area where unions
didn't exist to a great degree.
So TVA's salary and wage scale, I'm sure, was above
the average. Now, of course, the law requires them to pay the
prevailing wage to blue collar workers, but their interpretation
of the prevailing wage was the union scale, and a lot of times
this was justified because this was the only scale they could
get. They didn't have any information on non-union pay, so I
think they were high, and I think they tended to stay high too.
They are probably still high compared to the academic field.
Now I don't know about private industry, of course. In those
days they were probably higher than private industry because
private industry was so hard hit by the depression.
CRAWFORD: Recruiting was very successful during that time,
Yes, yes. Right
CRAWFORD: There seems to be some uncertainty as to what the
real aims of the Social and Economic Division were.
GREENE: That's right. I think that's true. I don't think
they ever were perfectly clear as to their aims
while I was there. They were sort of fighting for a place really
and I don't know what subsequently happened to the division.
I don't know whether their aims became clear or not. When I
left it, I lost contact with it and didn't have any after that
time. My contacts thereafter were with the Personnel Department.
CRAWFORD: What directions were taken in this search for a
program or a purpose of the Social and Economic
Division? What plans were made?
GREENE: Well, in addition to making municipal studies, they
made a number of tax studies, and this has, I
think, probably been an important, on-going operation because
they have the problem of paying tax replacements in lieu
payments, so their studies of economics and taxation were
rather more practical than significant. Beyond that I really
CRAWFORD: Did the Social and Economic Division serve any
purpose of liaison between TVA and local or state
GREENE: Not too much, no. I wouldn't say so. There again
I think probably the power people had more of a
role here, and maybe the planners. Now at one time, of course,
the Social and Economic Division was a sub-division of the
planning group as a whole, and the planners did have quite a
few contacts at the state level, I believe, and were very
instrumental in setting up the state planning activities of
Tennessee and probably in other states too, but I'm not well
informed on that.
CRAWFORD: What was the nature of that claim mainly? Did it
involve urban, architectural planning?
GREENE: It involved urban planning—physical planning
particularly. It didn't involve much architectural
planning. I'm not absolutely certain what the role of those
planners was with respect to the planning of the architectural
structures of the dams.
TVA got quite a bit of praise for some of the
architecture at the dams, but I don't remember whether the
planning unit or division did this or whether this was part of
the engineering design. I expect the planners had quite a bit
to do with it, and of course, they had a good deal to do with
the layout of Norris, some of the layout at Guntersville and
some of the layout at Muscle Shoals, as I recall. Oh, in that
case they had something to do with installations like Fontana
and Hiwassee. Their earliest achievement, and one that got the
most attention was the layout at Norris.
CRAWFORD: What did you think of the organizational structure
of TVA when you first arrived?
GREENE: When I first got there, of course, they were begin-
ning to have disputes in the Board about functions,
and they tried to divide the Board up, as other people will no
doubt tell you. Lilienthal was in charge of legal power
operations; H. A. Morgan, naturally, was in charge of agriculture;
A. E. Morgan was in charge of engineering, planning, design,
construction, and of personnel. And A. E. was the Chairman
and he tried to exercise a dominating role as Chairman, though
neither Lilienthal nor Harcourt Morgan found this acceptable
and they tried to solve the problem by setting up Blandford
as Coordinator, and eventually he became the General Manager.
Now below that I think the organization was adequate
enough for a conventional type of organization, but there was
some problems eventually in TVA with respect to the comptroller
of TVA, but I don't find any fault with TVA's organization.
It is an agency which has gone through repeated re-organizations.
It's sort of devoted to the philosophy of constant re-organization,
which may be rather a good thing. It's sometimes a little
difficult to keep track of it. But I didn't find anything wrong
with their organization, because the Personnel Department was
a fairly sensible one. There was one continuing problem in the
Personnel Department in that the training activities of TVA,
which included in-service training particularly, were in the
same division as educational relationships, and this never made
much sense and it caused a certain amount of diffusion of
CRAWFORD: Why would you feel they should be separate? What
was the separate . . .
GREENE: Well the educational people were concerned with the
education of TVA children at some of these locations
such as Muscle Shoals or Guntersville , but they were also
concerned with trying to establish some kind of relationship
that influenced educational activities which I think, myself,
should have been left to the state departments of education.
I think TVA stepped out of its proper role there. And this
had very, very little to do with in-service training and so we
were divided in the Training Division--I was concerned with
in-service training. Niehoff was concerned primarily with
in-service training, but some of our colleagues, particularly
Miss James, were concerned with educational relationships on
a broader basis not of employees, but of children. And they
didn't belong in the same division and I don't see much reason
for having put them there.
But aside from that, the Personnel Department was
well organized — very wisely organized — and I think its
relationships with the field were very sensible on the whole.
I think they had a good organization. TVA people were very
thoughtful about organizations; they paid a great deal of
attention to them on the whole. It was sensible. The educational
relationships role in TVA has always been a trouble-maker.
It's never been adequately solved in my judgment and probably
shouldn't have been undertaken.
Some early training activities also included an
in-service training of cultural activities of various sorts.
At Norris, for example, they got into general intellectual
activity and craft activity and all sorts of morale building
activities of this sort which got in the way of in-service
training. You weren't always clear as to what you were doing.
CRAWFORD: I think you had a lot of creativity — perhaps a lot
of creative people in TVA during this period, many
of whom had their own ideas about what was needed best to help
GREENE: That's right; that's true.
CRAWFORD: Of course, in their own fields, I suppose — improving
library sources, improving education and so forth.
GREENE: That's right. It was a sort of grant-giving agency
in so many ways, but not from an organizational
point of view those two things didn't fit together. But aside
from that I don't see, off hand, anything wrong with the
organization of TVA particularly in the Personnel Department.
CRAWFORD: What were the major training programs at the time
you were in the Training Division?
GREENE: Well, my work consisted of giving classes at the
University of Tennessee, mostly for credit, and I
had enrollment from TVA personnel. At that time U. T. had no
Political Science Department, and frankly one of the purposes
of TVA in creating this relationship was to create a Political
Science Department at the University.
CRAWFORD: Why did TVA consider that part of its responsibility?
GREENE: Well, I just guess they thought it was a good idea
and nobody else was doing it so they contributed
to it, and probably it was a good idea. It did help the university
I think TVA had something of the same role in engineering. I
think Dick Niehoff's work did quite a good deal to expand and
develop U. T.'s engineering school, probably more than we did
in the field of public administration because the clientele was
bigger and the job was bigger.
CRAWFORD: How did you decide what classes to offer?
GREENE: This was part of our original program. We offered
administrative law and public personnel administration.
We still offer those courses. We've offered them ever since
CRAWFORD: Did you consult with members of TVA as to what sort
of courses they wanted to take?
GREENE: Yes. You see, now this was Niehoff's job primarily
because he was the training man for all of the
Knoxville area and he and I worked very closely together on this.
And then another aspect of our program was the development of
management internships and personnel internships, and the great
many people that we took in to those internships would subsequently
become quite influential and eminent in the country. One of
them was Jim Raney, who became Chairman of the Atomic Energy
Commission eventually. One of them was Robert Avery, who has
been very prominent in administrative work at the University of
Tennessee. One of them is Norman Wengirt, who has been very
prominent as a political scientist in the natural resources
field in the United States.
CRAWFORD: How did you set up the management training program?
GREENE: Now this was a work experience for me almost
exclusively. These people were taken out of graduate
school by a country-wide selection process and put into work
experiences for six months to a year—usually a year program.
After that they were put into management positions in TVA.
CRAWFORD: What sort of training did they receive during this
GREENE: Well, I don't know how to describe it except to say
that they were put in various offices and given
work assignments to give them work experience,
CRAWFORD: Intern-type training?
GREENE: That's right.
CRAWFORD: To what level did you develop these training
programs? Did you extend it down to the level of
construction personnel — people working on the projects?
GREENE: No, not in public administration. Now the general
training program reached all sorts of people from
the top to the bottom. I think our public administration
program had one conspicuous lack, and that is we had very
limited contact in the administration with the top people. And
I always felt that a Public Administration Training Supervisor
should have been attached to the General Manager's office
rather than a position in the Training Division of the
Department of Personnel. Of course the relationship between
the Department of Personnel and the General Manager's office
was so close that the organizational structure wasn't as bad
as might appear on paper, but I didn't think it made too much
sense to have, in effect, a systems-wide supervisor attached
to a division of the Department of Personnel. I think it should
have been attached to the General Manager's office.
CRAWFORD: Were the close relations between personnel and top
management caused by the personalities involved
rather than the organizational structure?
GREENE: Well, both I think. It makes sense for the personnel
people to be closely attached to the General Manager's
office, but the Director of Personnel in those days was Gordon
Clapp, and his contacts with A, E. Morgan and Lilienthal were
very close, and he was a very able man, so it was partly a
personal matter, but also an organizational matter.
CRAWFORD: Were the public administration training programs
supported generally by top management in TVA — Board
members, General Manager?
GREENE: Well, I think they were supported, but I doubt if
the Board was terribly aware of them. I think the
support and the awareness probably came from the Director of
Personnel, but I'm sure there was no indifference on the part
of the Board. My contacts were almost always with George
Gant , the head of the Training Division, and with the Director
of Personnel, and hardly ever with the Board, and not very much
with the General Manager, although, of course, I knew Clapp
very well when he was the General Manager. But the contacts
were primarily with the Director of Personnel.
CRAWFORD: What sort of relations did TVA maintain with the
University of Tennessee and other universities?
GREENE: I can't speak with respect to other universities.
Their relationships with U. T. were fairly close
because Dick Niehoff was in very close contact with Dean
Ferris and other people in the College of Engineering. Now
our relationships with the History Department, where Political
Science was then lodged, was almost entirely through me. I
know that George Gant had some contact with Dean Fred Smith,
but I think it was minimal. I think the real close contacts
were between Dick Niehoff and the College of Engineering.
CRAWFORD: Why was that? Was that because at the time so much
of TVA was concerned with building projects?
GREENE: Yes, well they had all these engineers who wanted
further training and the University of Tennessee
Engineering College was rather limited, as I think at that
time, and Dick took a certain leadership in bringing those two
together to the benefit of both of them, really.
CRAWFORD: Personal leadership at various levels played a
great deal of importance in the structure, didn't it?
GREENE: I would surely say so. Well, Niehoff was, as you
know, a very energetic man . . .
CRAWFORD: And still is.
GREENE: . . . and imaginative guy, so he played a great
part in this, I'm sure, because he had good support.
Gordon Clapp and Lilienthal — I think they both backed him on
this. Of course, H. A. Morgan was the former President of
the University of Tennessee and a friend of President Hoskins,
but I don't think Hoskins was probably too well aware of what
was going on in this regard.
The University of Tennessee has always been a pretty
highly decentralized institution. I think this was an engineering
proposition, and as far as we were concerned the matter for the
liberal arts college was for Dean Hessler. And I think Dean
Hessler was quite aware of the development that was taking
place and probably was back of it to the degree that he could
be with his fairly limited budget.
CRAWFORD: Do you feel that relations with the university were
as effectively maintained as they could have been?
GREENE: Yes, I think so. I think that this is a fairly
good success story on the part of TVA. Actually,
of course, the University always feels a certain standoff ishness ,
I suppose, toward any outside agency, and I think maybe there
were some suspicions that developed between universities and
TVA, but on the whole I think this was pretty good and
effectively maintained. I'm not aware of too much pulling and
hauling on this.
CRAWFORD: I get the impression that there was a good deal of
respect for educational institutions, perhaps
because you had a certain amount of movement of personnel back
and forth from the agency in varying degrees.
GREENE: That's right, and of course they were dealing with
land-grant institutions. H. A. Morgan was a land
grant man and their agricultural program in TVA was closely
geared to the land-grant institution, so they operated as a
philosophical matter, to a considerable degree, through the
existing educational institutions. And I'm sure they did a
lot for U. T. There is no question that TVA contributed greatly
to U. T.'s development. Now I think that time has disappeared.
TVA is not nearly as important as it used to be, but in 1936
to '41 it was quite important.
CRAWFORD: Both have grown a lot since that time.
CRAWFORD: More growth, of course, quantitatively at the
university, I suppose.
GREENE: That's right. Well, I think TVA has probably gone
down hill a little bit since that time in terms of
its program being less vital, less unique than it was in the
early days, and the universities have more money and more federal
aid of various kinds. I think their relationships are still
friendly but TVA is not as interesting to the university people
as it use to be.
CRAWFORD: Well, it seems to me that you have had a great deal
of idealism and ideas of really reforming the region
in TVA at the early period, and working through the university,
I suppose, is certainly an obvious way to do it.
CRAWFORD: Your service with TVA was interrupted, Dr. Greene,
with one year in England, wasn't it?
GREENE: That's right, I went to England to study the
rehabilitation of the depressed areas and planning
in general under a grant from the Social Science Research Council
CRAWFORD: Were you still listed as an employee of TVA?
No, I resigned and was reemployed when I returned.
CRAWFORD: Why did you change to the Personnel Division on your
GREENE: Well, I changed to the Personnel Division before I
left. You see, I changed out of Social and Economic
to Personnel in January of 1937; I received a grant from SSRC
sometime in the spring of '37, and I left for England around
June or July, and so I was already in the Personnel Department.
And I came back to the same job that I left.
CRAWFORD: What was the structure of the Personnel Department
when you returned? Who was in charge of it then?
GREENE: Gordon Clapp was in charge of it when I left and
when I returned, and it consisted of a division of
employment (I'm not giving you the exact names), division of
job classification, division of employee relations, and a division
CRAWFORD: Do you remember who the division heads were at
GREENE: Slover was the head of employment; the head of
employee relations was Ted Schultz; training for
Maurice Seay to begin with and when he left , George Gant
succeeded him. Incidentally, George Gant was in the Social
and Economic Division when he first came. He was there when
I first came to TVA. And I've forgotten who was the head of
classification. At that time, I'm not certain anymore. Harry
Case eventually became head, but I don't know that he was at
that time. [I've remembered now that the head of classification
was Carl Richey.]
CRAWFORD: I've talked with a number of those people. I missed
Mr. Seay, who was in Michigan — western Michigan,
I believe, now.
GREENE: Yes, I believe he went back to Kentucky. Well,
you see, both Seay and Gant were concerned with
this educational relationship. That was Maurice Seay's back-
ground. Now Gant has a Ph.D. in history from the University
of Wisconsin. He went to the University of Wisconsin when I
was there. Now when he left Wisconsin, he went into adult
education work; he never has held a position as a historian.
His uncle, by marriage, was George Zook, the U. S. Commissioner
of Education, and he certainly had an influence on George's
career because I'm sure he helped him to get placed initially
out of graduate school. So George had a certain interest in
the educational field too but, of course, he became very well
versed in management generally.
CRAWFORD: I'm looking forward to talking to him when he gets
GREENE: He's a very able man. He did his thesis in trading
between the North and the South in the Civil War.
In other words, his thesis wasn't exactly preparation for his
CRAWFORD: That seems to be true in the case of a number of
people who worked for TVA. They ended doing some-
thing quite different.
GREENE: Well of course, Clapp was an education man too.
Clapp was brought into the TVA by Floyd Reeves, as
Durisch will no doubt tell you. Floyd Reeves was in the field
of education at the University of Chicago; he was very influential
in picking personnel of TVA, and Clapp, I believe, had some
educational position at Appleton, Wisconsin at Lawrence College.
He may have been Dean of Men there; I'm not sure, but Gant and
Clapp have been very great — (Or perhaps they were in the case
of Clapp since he's dead now)--were men with a very great
executive ability of a general kind. Both of them were very,
CRAWFORD: Do you feel that TVA had a great deal of success
in its selection of top personnel in its early
GREENE: Oh, yes. It was full of very able people. A. E.
Morgan, of course, was the Board Director, but
A. E. Morgan is pretty close to a genius, if not a genius.
Clapp was very able. Lilienthal, of course; and Harcourt
Morgan was an able man, without any question. The engineering
staff was extraordinary; there was a multitude of people in
engineering. I thought the personnel staff of TVA, which
included a great number of people, some of whom have become very
eminent in their profession since then. It was a good group
to be associated with--a very lively group.
CRAWFORD: Did you have an opportunity to become personally
acquainted with Harcourt Morgan?
GREENE: Yes, I was pretty well acquainted with H. A. Morgan.
CRAWFORD: Well, that's one of the things lacking in the
study. I've interviewed Dave Lilienthal and Arthur
Morgan, of course, but we missed Harcourt Morgan and I've tried
to get the account together by talking with people who knew him
GREENE: He has some relatives, but some of his family died,
including his son.
How would you evaluate him as an administrator and
GREENE: Well, that's difficult. H. A. Morgan is not always
well remembered at the University of Tennessee
because many people thought that he was not very good at
getting appropriations for the University from the State of
Tennessee. I have no personal knowledge of this. I don't know
whether this is true or not. Both Morgan and Hoskins have the
reputation of having run the university pretty much from their
desks. I don't know whether this is true of Morgan. It was
true of Hoskins; I know this to be the case, but the university
was very small then and the government was very personalized
in the Office of the Presisent, and I suppose Harcourt Morgan
had this same approach to things.
My acquaintanceship with Morgan was not too close.
I certainly had more contact with him in the years when I was
at the university than I ever had with Lilienthal, and I never
met A. E. Morgan, so I have no personal recollections of him
at all. H. A. Morgan was an adroit, political person, and I'm
sure he was difficult to understand. It was not easy to under-
stand what he was driving at. He was very interested in
natural resources and loved to talk about them, and I think he
had a vision of natural resources that would be welcome in the*
days when the people are so much interested in ecology.
CRAWFORD: I had wondered about that. It seemed that his
ideas were a bit ahead of their time.
GREENE: That's right. I think that's probably true. He
was not very good at explaining what it was that
he wanted done, if anything. He could talk about the subject,
and I think he probably was a creative person in this area,
but he had a little difficulty communicating his ideas to
Now, I have a notion that in his later days, H. A.
Morgan was not very influential in TVA. I think Clapp probably
took over the management of TVA pretty well when he was Chairman
of the Board. I'm sure his relationships with H. A. Morgan
were friendly, but I have a notion that in his later years, H. A
Morgan sort of let Clapp run the show and he thought about
CRAWFORD: You can't always tell about an organization from
the chart, of course. Do you have the feeling
that TVA, at least through the period that you watched it, has
had generally one strong director at a time — one most influential
GREENE: Of course, in the early days they had three strong
directors. This was the difficulty. There was no
doubt but what H. A. Morgan and David Lilienthal and A. E.
Morgan were all strong-minded people, and all of them able.
And I think Blandford was an able person when he became the
General Manager, and the former Comptroller, Kohler, was a very
able and imaginative man, and Clapp, of course, was then Director
of Personnel — was in that same league — and the result was that
there was good deal of conflict between able people.
Now since that time I think probably two things
have happened, although I am not at all positive of this because
I haven't been close to it. One is that the Board has become
less significant and the General Manager more significant, and
beginning at least with Clapp as General Manager, I think
probably the General Manager has become more important. And
I think, beginning with Clapp as Chairman of the Board, the
Chairman has become more important than the other directors.
CRAWFORD: Do you consider this a normal agency development?
GREENE: Well, I don't know that. I think that might be
so. I think part of this is the function of
personalities. When Senator Pope became a member of the Board
I think there was added to the Board a person of limited
ability. I think Senator Pope was, with whom I had a lot of
contact (not on TVA matters), a "good man", but I think that
he was not as able as earlier directors. I think that he was
much more of a sentimentalist, much less able to draft and act
on factual data than was true of the earlier directors. I
wouldn't accord Pope the same regard as a person with intellect
as I would give Clapp, Lilienthal, Harcourt Morgan and A. E.
Morgan. I just don't think he was in that league at all.
CRAWFORD: You have had some knowledge of and contact with, I
believe, other government agencies. How did TVA
seem to compare in the time you were with it?
GREENE: Well, I think TVA was an outstanding agency. There
is no question about that, but my contact with TVA
is much closer than it has ever been with any other government
agency, on the national scene. Now, of course, I've had a lot
of contact with state and local governments and I have respect
for the people that I met there. There are many able people
in Tennessee local government, particularly in Memphis and
Nashville, and we've got some able people in the State of
Tennessee. But you would be hard put to match some of the
outstanding personalities of TVA.
Of course, the TVA people didn't have to struggle
with the same kind of political issues as the state and local
people have to struggle with, and I don't know how successful
that Clapp might have operated a political situation, but I
think he would have been very successful actually. He was
very, very adroit. He wouldn't have been a political leader,
but as an administrator working in a political situation, he
would have been very good.
CRAWFORD: Did it seem to you that TVA really had the
advantages both of a private corporation and of a
GREENE: In those days it had quite a few advantages. Those
were eventually cut down and whittled down a little
bit, so they didn't have quite the freedom in the later days
that they had in the early days. In the early days they had a
great deal of freedom.
CRAWFORD: Why do you feel those advantages were cut down over
a period of time?
GREENE: Well, I think it's a normal process for a national
government to try to coordinate its agencies and
put them all under one set of rules. I think TVA found this
to be so. They did, I believe, maintain a certain degree of
independence, fiscally, and then part of it came about in the
personnel field because there were advantages to being under
certain aspects of civil service, which TVA employs themselves,
and in a way they've got the best of both possible worlds here.
CRAWFORD: There is still some feeling of separation, the
separate listing in the telephone book, an attempt
to stand out just a little from being another government agency
GREENE: Yes. Well, TVA has been able to do one thing: it
has maintained its headquarters in the Valley. It
has a Washington office, but it is decentralized more than
most federal agencies, and it was able to fight off attempts
on the part of Harold Ickes, for example, to take it over,
and it's been successful in being something of a decentralized
agency at any rate.
CRAWFORD: It seems to me that government agencies have a
tendency to become a little less flexible and
imaginative—clogging of the administrative arteries, I suppose
GREENE: They do that.
CRAWFORD: Did it seem to you that TVA avoided that more than
GREENE: Well, I don't think they avoided it; I can't say
whether they avoided it more than usual because I
don't know enough about other national agencies. I think over
the years some of TVA's activity has been taken over by other
agencies, and some of its most aggressive and imaginative people
have left to go with other agencies. This happened with respect
to the Social Security, for example. It happened, then, with
respect to the Atomic Energy Commission and so on. And then,
of course, some of the TVA employees got older.
I think now, possibly, TVA is going through a period
of transition to a younger set of people, but in a sense its
mission has been accomplished or some of its missions have been
sloughed off or absorbed by other agencies, so it doesn't have
the same dynamism that it use to have and its no longer unique
as an agency for welfare purposes because too many other agencies
have been created. So it's gotten old, I think, to some
degree--no question. Now this may be a little bit subjective;
I've gotten old too. It may be one reason I feel this way.
I don't think TVA is as interesting an organization as it was
CRAWFORD: Well, it was one of the most creative organizations
in the country, I think, at that time.
GREENE: There's no question.
CRAWFORD: How well it could accomplish that after the initial
purpose had been carried out, I don't know,
GREENE: One of TVA's difficulties is that they've tried to
act in municipal and planning fields without an
adequate base and with limited powers. And I think TVA has
attempted to claim more influence in the field of regional
planning than is justified. Its main achievement has been the
creation of this electric power structure, and also probably
been a very influential activity in the field of agriculture,
but when it comes to the municipal field I don't think TVA has
greatly changed this.
CRAWFORD: I believe it was formed at least in part because
of Franklin Roosevelt's idea that the South was
behind the rest of the nation.
CRAWFORD: The part of the nation ill-fed, ill-clothed and
That ' s right .
CRAWFORD: What effect do you think it has had on correcting
GREENE: I think that's very difficult to estimate, and
really no careful estimate has ever been made of
this that I'm aware of. I think it would be impossible to say
whether TVA has had an effect or whether or not TVA has
participated in the effects of other things that went on. I
don't think it's easily feasible to say whether the provision
of electric power has had an effect. I think probably it would
be easier to demonstrate that they've had an effect in changing
the agricultural life in the South than anything else. It is
possible that cheap power could have come through the Interior
Department just as well as through TVA, for example.
CRAWFORD: Yes, well, the Department of Interior, as an old,
established government agency, probably was a lot
less imaginative and aggressive than TVA.
GREENE: Well, of course, they have other power operations
now, and Ickes, of course, tried to get hold of TVA
power operations. And I'm not aware in my own mind of whether
these agencies operate much different from TVA or whether it's
more of the same.
The thing that is not clear, and I don't believe
that any economist could ever make it clear, is what effect the
TVA power had on the region. It provided a power supply, but
whether this is the case of economical development, I think,
is a little hard to say. I think perhaps there could be a
field to study there, but nobody has taken it up.
CRAWFORD: I think it would be extremely difficult to evaluate.
You have obvious improvement; still, this might
have been accomplished in some other way--another government
agency, private development perhaps--though you do have a great
deal of obvious improvement in this area. What was the state
of TVA at the time you left in comparison with at the time you
GREENE: Well, two or three things had happened. When I
left, the conflict in the Board had been settled
and A. E. Morgan had gone, and there was a General Manager,
so organizationally it was perfected. And the other big thing
was its constitutionality had been established and it was an
on-going program. It was well secured by that time.
CRAWFORD: Why did you leave TVA for academic life?
GREENE: Well, for a couple of reasons. My job was eliminated
in TVA as part of a plan to eliminate it. It
wasn't intended to be a permanent position, and I preferred
academic life. That's what I prepared for and that's what I
wanted to do.
CRAWFORD: Did you take thought when you were in the Training
Division of the future of TVA; that is, were you
looking forward to developing future leadership in your program?
GREENE: Yes, but other people — not for myself.
CRAWFORD: To what extent do you suppose you were successful?
GREENE: Well, I think our internship program was very
successful in creating a group of people who
subsequently became very useful in TVA and elsewhere, but like
all internship programs, many of those people subsequently
left TVA and went with other agencies. This always happens in
internship programs and you have to make up your mind that that's
likely to happen.
I think that classes were less significant, although
it is rather interesting that both Van Mol and Lynn Seeber are
students of mine. Van Mol was an engineer by training, and he
went into the Classification Division and he started to take
classes in personnel administration as part of his training
program. Now whether or not this had any influence on him, I
CRAWFORD: What was Lynn Seeber 's background?
GREENE: His father was a county judge of Anderson County--
Clinton--and I think Seeber was a student of mine
as an undergraduate at UT. I'm not absolutely positive of
this, but I think so. But he was not in the training classes
that TVA provided, at least not while I was running it. Van
CRAWFORD: How did you develop your training classes? Did
you study other programs? Did you develop these
entirely on your own?
GREENE: Well, I studied other programs, but there were
conventional type, political science classes.
There was nothing especially unique about them.
CRAWFORD: Did you seek outside talent? Did you use TVA
personnel in this?
Yes, we did, and we have since, from time to time.
CRAWFORD: Dr. Greene, it's been a very good interview. Thank
you very much for the information.
You're very welcome.
8^ AUG 88